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Ageism. EveryAGE Counts

Posted April 17, 2019, by Elesha

Age might just be the number of candles on a birthday cake but for employees facing age discrimination, those numbers are negatively affecting their career. Ageism in the Aussie workforce has come into the spotlight in recent years thanks to advocacy campaigns like EveryAGE Counts.

Let’s take a look at the importance of age diversity in the workplace and why the most innovative organisations embrace all generations.

What is Ageism?

Ageism has been defined as stereotyping, discrimination and mistreatment based solely on a person's age.

It's a growing problem in the Australian workforce. Research from the Australian Human Rights Commission showed 27% of people aged 50 years and over had experienced age-based discrimination in the workplace.

EveryAGE Counts is an advocacy campaign aimed at tackling ageism against older Australians. The campaign vision? “A society where every person is valued, connected and respected regardless of age and health”

While EveryAGE Counts focuses on the challenges faced by older Australian’s, it’s not just the mature workers who encounter age-based discrimination.

Ageism can happen towards younger people, particularly when younger employees are promoted to leadership positions. According to research by Robert Walters, 84% of Gen Y employees surveyed said they had been overlooked for career progression because of their age.

Why Age Diversity In The Workplace Is Important

Four generational groups currently make up most of the Aussie workforce. Working alongside each other are Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (Millennials) and Generation Z (post-Millennials)

There are also Traditionalists - who born up to 1945 - still active in jobs too.

There are some real benefits to embracing a varied mix of ages and experience levels. Organisations can tap into the rich knowledge of experienced professionals as well as younger workers agile mindsets and new ideas.

Different Points Of View

A different point of view on an old problem can be like a breath of fresh air. From Baby Boomers through to Gen Z, each generation’s point of view, whether it be slightly or vastly different, can add real value to a team.

Leveraging talent between different age groups increases creativity, collaboration, and accelerates innovation. This gives an organisation a competitive edge rather than becoming set in its ways and stagnating.

Mentoring Opportunities And A Broader Knowledge Base

From the fresh intern to the manager celebrating 30 years in the industry and everyone in between we all have something to teach and learn from each other.

Younger generations typically keep up with tech advancements that happen faster than you can say ‘just download the app’ and usually embrace change quite quickly.

Those who count decades in the business have acquired deep industry knowledge and built an impressive network of professional relationships.

This opens up much richer learning experiences than a workplace environment where certain age groups are in the minority. There are more mentoring opportunities, both in the traditional sense and ‘reverse’ mentoring, reducing knowledge gaps for younger and more mature workers.

Building Trust With A Diverse Range Of Customers

Employing staff across all ages can foster more trust and confidence with customers too, especially in specific industries. An organisation with a diverse skill set and experience among the employees helps them to meet the demands of customers across all age categories.

Bunnings for example regularly hire staff over 50. Australia is an ageing population and Bunnings understands many customers appreciate the depth of knowledge older, more experienced team members can bring.

Different Priorities In The Workplace

We’re all at different stages of our career. Some of the priorities of middle-aged working parents or mature employees will naturally be different to the priorities of a graduate or someone who has just landed their first role.

Generation Gaps; Mythbusting Assumptions About Age In The Workplace shows Baby Boomers, Gen Y, and Gen X, Baby Boomers value job security the most.

Meanwhile, Gen X defines their biggest priority as meeting financial commitments including family costs and mortgage repayments. Gen Y’s key priority was to make an impact by doing meaningful work.

When it comes to your career, what matters more than your birthdate is a lifelong commitment to learning. Henry Ford said it well:

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young”

Elesha

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